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93 days 22 hours 52 minutes

Nándor Fa and Conrad Colman skippers’ log 19thFeb – mast head job again – in good speed

“If you pull me, I’ll go up there” – I said. Our speed is 15 – 18 knots, we are running on 5-6 m high waves, not very promising… C goes out, looks around and says: you pull me, and I’ll go up. He’s up there in five minutes

02 19, 00 40 UTC,

We were really sad to hear the Renault is going to New Zealand and not even to the southern port Invercargill, but to Wellington. As far as we know, beside their renewable problems with the rudder they have some problems with the keel too. We are really sorry for Jörg and Sebastian, they’ve been sailing perfectly, just the way you expect good mini skippers to sail.

Good news in the night! We just couldn’t accept the fact that we are out of sugar, so we started to search the boat. Of course we didn’t find sugar, but I did find two jars of honey and two big gas tanks. Yaaaay, now we will have enough gas the entire course. May I never have bigger problems than having to drink coffee with honey!

I’m never going to be happy about stuff in the middle of the ocean, because it always hits back at me. I barely finished typing my previous sentence — I look up at the instruments as I always do from time to time while writing, to make sure everything goes all right —, and I see that the wind data is not correct. According to the instrument, we should have already gybed, the wind had turned so much. I jump out and see that everything is just the way it was before. Reality did not lie, we have a 20-23 kts reaching wind. So I look up and realize the top instrument is dangling around the top of the mast, hanging on its own cable. I woke C immediately, he’s slept enough anyways.

First, I suddenly put a wind indicator ribbon to the back of the boat on the URH antenna to see the directions. “If you pull me, I’ll go up there” – I said. Our speed is 15 – 18 knots, we are running on 5-6 m high waves, not very promising… C goes out, looks around and says: you pull me, and I’ll go up. He’s up there in five minutes and I let him down another five minutes later. He brings the instrument with him in two pieces. Before he detached it, all functions worked, but it was showing false data — so the cable must be in one piece. The lock and the beacon’s tube were parted — I was amazed how the two parts of the Rolls-Royce of sailing instruments was just glued on 10 millimetres and that’s it. The bonding just naturally slipped. At least it can be repaired. On the other hand, nothing, not even the manual tells me how to fix the parts together.

At home, it’s 4 o’clock in the morning so I’m not going to call Peter, I rather pull Conrad up again to check where the cams are. There are certain leading cams on the plug, so that it goes in the right place. C goes up, takes a few pictures and comes down. Now I know the big cam has to be up. I clean the whole thing, polish it, and glue it together. Now we are waiting for it to harden and crossing our fingers so that it would work. Tomorrow would be even harder to fix it, the wind is going to increase.

By the evening the glue had hardened and I woke C to put it back up before it gets dark. He climbs the mast for the third time now, and reinforces it with four carbon laminas. Now all we have to decide is, what to do if it doesn’t work. As he put it in place I went back to the helm, as all instruments have to be turned off while we set it, even the pilot. When I turned the system back, everything appears on the display. I signaled him it’s all right, he was whooping up there on top of the mast. It hurts just imagining myself looking at that one ribbon in the dark, with a headlight… and sailing the whole circumnavigation according to that. Now the instrument is very well reinforced, it will be hard to get it off.

Our whole day was spent on fixing this, while we had not slowed the boat for even a minute. He climbed the mast three times, I pulled him up three times while the boat was doing 17 knots on the 4-metres waves. Only those can imagine what it’s like, who’s been there.

We could as well celebrate this, but as soon as we’re finished the wind turns, and we have to change the reacher for a gennaker. It’s still up, we progress well, though the wind has calmed to 16-18 knots. We’re going to have to gybe soon again, before tomorrow’s northerly increase arrives.

Now I’ll go have some dinner, and then C comes next.

At 14 10 UTC our position is: 47° 02,8′ S, 126° 34′ E.

The amazing pictures here below – taken by Conrad on the top of the word as he wrote us! Great job as the repair and the photo!

CONRAD COLMAN Log (Eng and Fr version)

Position: 47 Degrees 32’ South 127 Degrees 24’ East.

Up, down, up down….. up down. That pretty much sums up my day.
Nandor woke me up this morning with the desperate news that our last wind instrument at the top of the mast had broken off, but that a stroke of luck had left it hanging instead of falling into the sea. We had a short window to recover it before it completely chafed the delicate wires inside the instrument. I immediately dressed and put the climbing harness and my helmet on and leapt up the mast. I secured the wind instrument and unscrewed its plug so that I could take it down for repairs.

Over breakfast we talked about how to repair the arm of the wind wand, as the glue joint had failed. We quickly saw that we would need to confirm the orientation of the sensor relative to the plug, as gluing it in upside down wouldn’t help our cause! We sent emails specialists in Europe asking advice but as it was still early morning we had some hours to wait for a reply. In the meantime we realised that the answer to our question was just over our heads, 30 metres/ 100ft at the top of the mast.

I prepared to climb again, but without the panic of recovering the piece before it broke I had some some to consider the circumstances. It was blowing probably 28 knots, we were surfing down big waves with our small reacher and a reef in the main and as I left the cockpit I saw 20 knots of boat speed on the screen. We considered furling the sail or slowing down but actually its safer to climb when the boat is under pressure because maintains a steadier angle of heal and the boat speed smoothes out some of the shocks. Climbing is far from easy however, as it would be too hard to ask Nandor to (repeatedly) winch me to the top with just the small mast winch, I had to pull myself up. Bracing myself with my feet against the tube of the mast, I grabbed halyards and backstays with my hands and by pulling with my arms and thrusting with my hips was able to make good progress. The only respite from continually lifting my body weight came from brief pauses at each of the spreaders.

Having confirmed the plug’s orientation for the repair, Nandor and I glued the wind want back together and put it in the hot engine box to set. Some hours later, and with clouds building on the horizon, I climbed a third time to the top and with a shout of joy from the cockpit Nandor confirmed that it worked when I plugged it back in! A huge satisfaction as I didn’t fancy guessing the wind strength and direction for the next 50 days, especially with the entire Pacific yet to cross! Back down on deck we changed sails and I could certainly feel the day’s labours in my arms and shoulders and felt quite weak at the end of it.

PS. I often look on the chart to find significant landmarks to reference our latitude or longitude as few people have the habit of thinking in degrees when it comes to position. In our daily lives we think of our location relative to something else, like “I’m close to this tree or I’ll meet you in the park”. Such comparisons are hard to make for our current position however, as the middle of Australia is just a huge desert without major metropoli. However, proudly marked on the chart is the Ivy Tank Motel! Clearly, between Perth and the east coast there’s a whole lotta not much.

Carnet de bord 19 février

Position: 47° 32’ S et 127° 24’ E

En bas, en haut, en bas, en haut…et finalement, en bas! je crois que j’ai bien résumé ma journée. Nandor m’a réveillé ce matin en m’expliquant que notre girouette s’était arrachée de la tête de mât et tenait miraculeusement par un fil. Nous savions que nous avions très peu de temps pour agir alors que le fil menaçait de se couper avec les conditions difficiles. Je me suis donc dépêché d’enfiler le harnais et mon casque pour monter sécuriser les fils et débrancher la girouette afin de la réparer de retour sur le pont.

Nous avons discuté pendant le petit déjeuner de la meilleure manière de réparer mais il s’est vite avéré qu’il nous manquait quelques informations pour tout recoller comme il le fallait. Nous avons envoyé des emails aux supports techniques de notre équipement en Europe mais vu le décalage horaire nous avions quelques heures à tuer avant d’avoir la réponse. Nous avons finalement réalisé que la réponse à nos questions était au dessus de nos têtes, à 100 pieds/ 30 mètres, en haut du mat!

Alors que je me préparais à remonter, sans l’urgence de la précédente situation, j’ai été un peu impressionné par les circonstances: 28 nœuds de vent, 1 ris dans la grand voile, petit foc et des surfs plutôt rapides avec des pointes à 20 nœuds! Nous avons pensé à affaler les voiles mais dans ces conditions avec beaucoup de houle il est en fait plus sûr d’avancer que de rester à l’arrêt pour monter dans le mat car la vitesse permet de garder une gite constante et d’atténuer un peu certains chocs. Par contre, l’ascension en elle même est loin d’être une partie de plaisir. Comme il est très fatigant de monter quelqu’un plusieurs fois sur un petit winch  de mat, j’ai dû grimper à la force de mes bras et jambes. Les pieds en appui sur le mat et en m’accrochant aux gréements, j’ai progressé plutôt bien en faisant des pauses (bienvenues!) sur les barres de flèche.

Arrivé en haut, j’ai vérifié dans quel sens nous devions recoller les morceaux et nous nous sommes mis au travail dès mon retour dans le cockpit avant de faire sécher le tout au dessus du moteur. Quelques heures plus tard, et alors que de gros nuages gris apparaissaient à l’horizon, je suis remonté une 3ème fois la haut et après le branchement, Nandor a confirmé par un cri de joie que ça marchait. Ouf! C’est un vrai soulagement pour nous car je me voyais mal essayer de deviner la direction du vent pour les 50 prochains jours… surtout en ayant encore tout le Pacifique à traverser. Nous avons changé les voiles à mon retour en bas et j’avoue que j’étais bien KO des efforts du jour.

N’étant pas un grand fan des acrobaties tête de mat, je suis soulagé et heureux que l’on ait quand même réussi à se sortir de ce nouveau piège et que «Spirit of Hungary» puisse continuer à s’exprimer dans de bonnes conditions. Il est temps pour moi de me reposer maintenant!

ps: je cherche souvent des points de références intéressants quand j’écris ma position sur le carnet de bord et je dois dire que je n’ai rien trouvé de bien croustillant alors que nous sommes à la longitude du centre de l’Australie … qui est un grand désert! Par contre j’ai rigolé en voyant sur nos cartes marines, en plein milieu de ce désert, fièrement marqué le «Ivy Tank Motel», apparemment entre Perth et la côte Est il n’y a pas grand chose d’autre